Our Pledge to Address Systemic Racism as a Public Health Crisis

Empowering Integrated Care Solutions recognizes the current impact of systemic racism in the United States that has risen to the level of a public health crisis. Our organization has joined the Greater Cleveland Partnership pledge to address systemic racism through advancing racial equity and inclusion. This collaborative organizational pledge is an important first step in the movement to address racial injustice which requires the allocation of resources and strategic action, which starts within every community.

Empowering Integrated Care Solutions is a behavioral healthcare organization that provides home and community-based services through an integrated service delivery model to an underserved population of individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Approximately 70% of our consumers represent racial and ethnic minorities that face diverse behavioral health challenges, health disparities, and other racial inequities.

Empowering Integrated Care Solutions is committed to our mission of Empowering individuals to bridge the gap in their service needs, embracing care integration, personal choice, diversity, and community inclusion. Our staff’s commitment to our mission has allowed us to bridge the gap in racial inequities through the following daily actions:

  • Partnership with the Cuyahoga County Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities Court

    Although African Americans and Latin Americans comprise 29% of the U.S. population, they make up 57% of the U.S. prison population. These imprisonment rates are 5.9 and 3.1 times the rate for Caucasian adults and are evidence of racial disparity within the legal system. Our involvement with the MH/DD Court allows us to provide specialized services to our population of consumers, providing advocacy, education and support for the barriers they face. Since the inception of this partnership, our consumers have had a reduction in recidivism and an increase in successful completion of supervised community control.

  • Increased access to mental health care and linkage to other healthcare providers

    Our organizational focus has been on providing services to individuals where they are needed – in the home and community in order to eliminate barriers to service access. We facilitate consumer linkages to other healthcare providers every day and assist individuals’ in following up with recommended care to decrease gaps in health disparities prominent within minority populations. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have expanded services through the use of telehealth which has provided critical mental health services to our population of consumers.

  • Addressing trauma in our population of consumers

    Research points to higher rates of lifetime prevalence of Post-traumatic stress disorder among African Americans. Approximately, 75% of our current consumer population has experienced trauma. Currently, staff provide specialized interventions to individuals impacted by trauma. In 2021 staff will receive additional training as part of the FY2021 Strategic Initiatives in order to increase our responsiveness to this racial disparity.

Strategic Initiatives for FY 2021 to Address Systemic Racism

As part of our organizational pledge to address systemic racism, we have formed a Social Justice Committee (SJC) comprised of a diverse panel of staff. The SJC has identified the following initiatives for FY 2021 that will focus on reducing health disparities and racial inequities through education, community partnerships/engagement, and supportive services to persons served due to the pandemic.

Staff Education

  • Staff will be provided with further education on the criminal justice system, racial inequities in the legal system and specialized therapeutic/treatment interventions to support racial disparities in mental health treatment
  • All staff will receive additional Trauma-Informed Care training and obtain trauma certification to better support mental health treatment for persons served

Community Partnerships/Engagement

  • Collaboration with local police departments to provide education on the specialized characteristics of the population that we serve. Initial communication with Euclid Police Department has occurred and we will reach out to other local law enforcement entities to further this strategic initiative
  • Planned collaboration with the Urban League of Cleveland to reduce racial inequities in housing and employment. This collaboration will allow for increased opportunities for housing and workforce development for our consumers.

Supportive Services to Consumers

  • While flu vaccination is the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications, flu vaccination rates among people in racial and ethnic minority groups are lower than vaccination rates among non-Hispanic White persons. Studies have shown that minority populations are at higher risk for getting the flu and developing serious illness from the flu resulting in hospitalization. Our organization will collaborate with community healthcare organizations in order to provide flu shots to persons served.
  • There is increasing evidence that racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. In response to this racial health disparity, our organization will secure funding to provide COVID-19 personal protective equipment, including hand soap, face masks, and hand sanitizers to consumers to increase their ability to stay safe during the current pandemic.

We are committed to this pledge to address racism as a public health crisis and look forward to collaborating with other organizations to further this critical action.